Toyota is heading to the moon with a cruiser, robotic arms and dreams
Toyota is working with Japan’s space agency on a vehicle to explore the lunar surface, with ambitions to help people live on the Moon by 2040 and then go live on Mars, officials said Friday. ‘business.
The vehicle being developed with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is called Lunar Cruiser, named after the Toyota Land Cruiser sport utility vehicle. Its launch is scheduled for the end of the 2020s.
The vehicle is based on the idea that people eat, work, sleep and communicate with others safely in cars, and the same can be done in space, said Takao Sato, who leads the Lunar Project. Cruiser at Toyota Motor Corp.
“We see the space as a space for our unique transformation in a century. By going into space, we may be able to develop telecommunications and other technologies that will prove valuable to human life,” Sato told The Associated Press.
Gitai Japan Inc., a company under contract with Toyota, has developed a robotic arm for the Lunar Cruiser, designed to perform tasks such as inspection and maintenance.
Its “grapple attachment” allows the end of the arm to be changed so that it can function as different tools, scooping, lifting and sweeping.
Gitai chief executive Sho Nakanose said he believes the challenge of blasting off into space has been met, but working in space comes with significant costs and risks for astronauts. This is where robots would come in handy, he said.
Ever since its founding in the 1930s, Toyota feared losing a core business to changing times. He ventured into housing, boats, jets and robots. Its sustainable grid-connected housing near Mount Fuji, called Woven City, where construction begins this year.
Japanese fascination with the moon has grown steadily.
A private Japanese company called ispace Inc. is working on lunar rovers, landings and orbits, and is scheduled for a moon landing later this year. Businessman Yusaku Maezawa, who recently took videos of himself floating in the International Space Station, has booked an orbit around the moon aboard Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s spacecraft.
Toyota engineer Shinichiro Noda said he was excited about the Moon Project, an extension of the automaker’s longstanding mission to serve customers and the moon could provide valuable resources for life on Earth.
“Sending our cars to the moon is our mission,” he said. Toyota has vehicles almost everywhere. “But it’s about taking our cars to a place we’ve never been.”